During their first faceoff in more than four years, Silva (35-12-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) shoved Sonnen (28-15-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) during the photo op. Sonnen tried to respond, but before he could move forward, Bellator President Coker and on-stage security intervened.
Coker previously said he would try to avoid such a situation and preserve the 205-pound headliner, which takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York City and airs on pay-per-view following the Bellator 180 portion of the card on Spike and MMAjunkie.
There was contact anyway, and though not ideal, Coker said he was glad the situation was quickly contained.
“I wanted to get right in the middle of that because I didn’t want anything bad to happen,” Coker told MMAjunkie. “When Chael had that water bottle, I was like, ‘Oh, I know where this is going.’ We don’t need any headaches like that. Let’s let the fight happen on Saturday.”
Although staredowns serve a purpose in generating pre-fight excitement, Coker said it’s ultimately not worth the risk. If things go off the rails, the fight could be in jeopardy, but Coker said he’s glad it didn’t go that far.
“One shove – that’s OK,” Coker said. “But if it got any worse – I don’t want the fight to happen here at the press conference when they could get hurt. Then what? The fight’s off? I always tell the guys, I whisper in their ear, ‘Hey guys, no one gets paid tonight. Everyone gets paid on Saturday night. So keep that in mind when you’re doing your thing.’”
The final in-person showdown between Sonnen and Silva is set for Friday’s ceremonial weigh-ins. Coker said he will take extra measures when the rivals come face to face, but he said the emotions from both sides shows the level of disdain heading into the grudge match.
“I know Wanderlei is still emotional and upset,” Coker said. “He wants to kick Chael’s ass. That’s what I think. But I think Chael – he wants to fight Wanderlei too, but I think Wanderlei a little bit more.
“I just feel the anger in Wanderlei. But he fights like that all the time. At the end of the day, I think we are going to have a great fight on Saturday.”